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Stigma among COVID-19 patients in South India-A cross-sectional study

1 School of Social Work, IGNOU, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Sociology and Social Work, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Social Work, Central University of Karnataka, Kalaburagi, Karnataka, India
4 Department of Psychiatry, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India
5 Department of Clinical Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
Kannappa V Shetty,
School of Social Work, IGNOU, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/amh.amh_189_21

Background: COVID-19 has a significant biopsychosocial impact on the lives of people who are infected, with the stigma associated with the illness being one of the major issues. However, the level of stigma based on demographics, gender differences, hospital-based or home-based care is yet to be explored. Hence, this study aimed to infer the level of stigma between these groups in the urban district of south India. Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study recruited 50 participants who were recently infected with COVID-19 and were receiving either hospital or home-based care. The stigma was assessed using a standardized questionnaire which has four domains. MannWhitney U test was conducted to analyze the data. Results: Median age is 54 years and the majority of the participants are male (74%). The mean score of enacted stigma subscale was 4.48, disclosure fear was 2.34, internalized stigma was 2.82, perceived externalized stigma was 7.32 and the total stigma mean score was 17. The perceived externalized stigma subscale was higher in males (7.57 ± 5.96) when compared to females 6.62 ± 5.53. Total stigma scores were higher for males 17.2 ± 10.1 when compared to females 16.2 ± 10.5. The total stigma score was more (17 ± 10.3) among home isolated COVID patients as compared to hospitalized patients (16.9 ± 10.2). Conclusion: Increased levels of stigma among COVID-19 patients have various important psychosocial implications. This study highlights the need for larger prospective cohort studies to further understand stigma in the context of COVID-19.

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